Staying Safe And Civil During Child Custody Exchanges
Recently in New Orleans, Louisiana, a child custody exchange turned violent. The defendant, who authorities have since charged with three counts of second-degree aggravated battery and illegal use of weapons, shot at three people during the exchange of her 6 year old daughter. Reports indicate one of the victims was the child’s father. Although authorities are not sure what provoked the incident, violence is never the answer. Sadly, this is not the first report of a child custody exchange gone wrong. What can parents do to minimize tension and keep the peace during custody exchanges? What if one parent feels unsafe around the other, or there is a history of domestic violence?
Find a Neutral Location & Deescalate Unproductive Communication
Once custody is finalized, both parents should have a written parenting plan or custody schedule dictating a neutral, equidistant location for drop-offs and pick-ups. This should have been discussed by both parents. Sometimes pick-up and drop-offs might occur at a child’s school, or a parking lot at a nearby restaurant. Or it may occur at one parent’s home, but this is not always feasible and convenient. Co-parents should come up with a solution that works for both them and their child while minimizing conflict and the potential for issues to arise.
For parents sharing physical custody, exchanges might occur twice a week or more. A good rule of thumb is not to discuss issues of any sort in front of the child, and certainly not at a custody exchange, which is supposed to be quick and civil. Doing otherwise places the child in the middle of conflict, and the child may dread the exchange more than they already have to. It can be a difficult transition for all parties, but keeping the line of communication open and discussing small issues before they become problems can prevent conflict down the road.
Arrange for Child Custody Exchanges at a Local Police Station
It goes without saying that parents should not be bringing weapons with them to custody exchanges. If you have a history of domestic violence or abuse with your co-parent, you are strongly advised to arrange for a custody exchange at a local police station or sheriff’s office. Doing so can dissuade your ex from starting an argument because you can immediately seek help.
Never agree to an exchange at a co-parent’s home or in a low-traffic area if your co-parent has acted violent or irate before, even if not in the presence of your child. If you are still under duress, you may need to consider applying for a domestic violence restraining order for yourself and your child. Our family law attorneys at Bubley & Bubley can walk you through this process confidentially. Your safety and the safety of your child is paramount.
Contact Tampa Child Custody Attorneys at Bubley & Bubley
A high-conflict divorce and custody battle often does not end in the courtroom. Parents must do what they can to minimize escalation of dispute and shield their child from that conflict. If you think custody arrangements need to be modified or if your co-parent has grown increasingly combative or abusive, you need help sooner rather than later. Our Tampa child custody attorneys at Bubley & Bubley can help you develop a strategy moving forward. Call today to schedule a consultation.